From History of the Slovak National Gallery

1948 – 1949

29 July 1948
The Slovak National Council decided to establish the SNG by law (Act No. 24 of 29 August 1948).

Karel Šourek, Czech art historian, who elaborated the first concept of the gallery, should have become the director (he died shortly afterwards).

The board of trustees with six members (V. Wagner, director of the board of trustees, M. Jurkovič, director of the Slovak Museum, J. Mudroch, J. Kostka, M. Škorupa, J. Dubnický, member ex offo and A. Günterová-Mayerová also as the registrar) was temporarily entrusted with the management of the gallery. The first session of the board of trustees was held on 7 January 1949 and the final meeting took place on 4 March 1952.

The Exhibition of Paintings of Old Masters from the SNG Collections (1949), commissioners: A. Günterová-Mayerová and Ľ. Kraskovská, was the opening exhibition. It was also installed in Partizánske, Martin and Košice.

On 14 February, the office of the SNG launched its operations. It began with two administrative employees in two rooms with a basic inventory of approximately 500 books (mostly donated by the University Library) and approximately 500 works of art, which were taken over from the Slovak Museum and the former Ministry of Education, Sciences and Arts.

In June, V. Novotný (from the National Gallery in Prague) introduced his concept of the institution.

On 2 October, V. Novotný and K. Vaculík began to work at the SNG. V. Novotný was the director of the National Gallery and K. Vaculík was the head of the department of Old Art.

The first purchase was carried out at a cost of 1,662,860 crowns for works of art and 121,076 crowns for books.

In December, the SNG owned 506 paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphic sheets.

The SNG also purchased for the Ministry of Education, Science and Art. For example, in 1950 they bought 32 paintings and drawings and 4 sculptures for them.

In late 1950 and early 1951, the premises of the former Water Barracks were allocated to the SNG (the gallery was also repaired from a UNRRA contribution).

On 1 April, K. Vaculík became the deputy director.

Attendance reached 22,939.

In this period, four exhibition rooms with a total area of 355 m2 were available. 2,452 works were not exhibited and 47 works were exhibited.

The gallery did not charge an admission fee and attendance reached 46,581 (however, data about 49,411 visitors also exists). The average daily attendance rate was 137.

The SNG became an independent institution fully funded from the State Budget.

On 9 May 1955, the newly reconstructed building of the former Water Barracks was opened as the new seat of the SNG (it was reconstructed by arch. F. Florians, interior by arch. K. Rozmány).

The permanent expositions, Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries – 150 Years of Slovak Fine Art Expression originated on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Liberation.

Shortly after the opening, the SNG management (according to the minutes from meetings in the second half of the 1950s) stated that the premises of the Water Barracks did not fit the needs of the gallery in terms of capacity. Academician E. Belluš elaborated the study designs for an additional structure on the south wing of the building and the new building situated on Gottwald Square (presently Námestie Slobody)in support of the idea to extend the premises.

In January the gallery acquired the status of a scientific workplace.

Despite being closed for two months, the gallery had an annual attendance of 42,691.

The SNG hosted the exhibitions The Life Work of X. Konečný; Czech Drawing of the 19th Century, Fr. de Goya – Graphic Art, and the Jubilee Exhibition of E. Rákoši and the T. J. Mousson exhibition.

The ASA (Association of Slovak Architects) in Bratislava announced a study assignment for the architectural-town planning design of the new construction and adaptation of the SNG (four teams of authors participated: they were led by architect V. Dedeček, E. Kramár, J. Frágner and M. Beňuška).

On 16 December 1963 and 3,4 and 6 January 1964 the assessment of the designs took place, the commission evaluated the design of V. Dedeček as the best; E. Kramár’s team finished second, J. Frágner’s team was third and the team of M. Beňuška was fourth.

On 1 March 1977, the SNG was ceremonially re-opened and its permanent expositions were opened to the general public.

Thanks to the SNG reconstruction, its exhibition area was extended to 3,328 m2 (the extent of the entire exhibition area in the old building was 1,162 m2), of which 2,737 m2 were reserved for permanent expositions and 591 m2 were reserved for temporary exhibitions.

The permanent exposition of Slovak applied arts according to the concept of A. Žáčková – Kmošová was opened for the first time at Zvolen Castle where the art-spatial design was implemented by P. Peressényi.

The UPV SNG collection of stage designs was created – 1st acquisition.

The Fine Art Archive was established as an archive of special significance.

On 3 September 1980, the Central Council of Museums and Galleries in Bratislava issued the SNG Statutes, according to which the institution was organized in the following sections: a/section of director, b/section of art science, c/section of scientific-technological and economic information, d/ workshops and laboratories, e/ section of finance and operations.

The architecture collection was created.

The branch facility in Dunajská Streda (Vermešova vila) was added.

The reconstruction of the Water Barracks was implemented (architect J. Bahna). The following work was implemented from the design of the second floor: partial lowering of the ceiling, replacement of carpeting by parquet floors in the exposition rooms and artificial stone in the hallways, change of lighting, segmentation of glassing and arches in the hallways; passage to Esterházy Palace (J. Bahna).

In May, two permanent expositions were opened at the Strážky Chateau: 1. Historical Exposition and Historical Library (commissioners I. Chalupecký and Z. Ondrejčeková) and 2nd Collection of Historical Furniture and Arts and Crafts (Commissioner A. Žáčková). A poster was published regarding the exhibitions.

In July, the exposition of Modern Slovak Sculpture of the 20th Century opened at Strážky on the premises of the chateau park (commissioner Zora Rusinová).

In November, the permanent exposition of the Gallery of Naïve Art in Pezinok at Schaubmar’s Mill was opened (commissioner K. Čierna) and an information leaflet regarding the exposition was published.

On 31 March, the bridge was closed due to technical reasons.

The first architectural competition for the reconstruction, modernizing and additional construction of the premises of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava was held.

The second architectural competition was held (chair architect Gustav Peichl, Vienna).

The reconstruction of Esterházy Palace took place.

The budget costs for construction in the amount of 1,037,082 000 SKK including VAT (871,498 000 SKK without VAT) on the price level of 2005 were approved through Slovak Republic Resolution No. 284 of 21 March 2007 regarding the proposal for the new design for reconstruction, modernizing and additional construction of the premises of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

On 31 March, a press conference on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the closing of the bridge was held.

Directors (office period)
Karel Šourek (1949)
Vladimír Novotný (1950 – 1952)
Karol Vaculík (1952 – 1970)
Ján Hraško (1970 – 1974)
Fedor Gavula (1974 – 1975)
Štefan Mruškovič (1975 – 1990)
František Guldan (interim appointment from 17 January to 14 June 1990)
Zuzana Bartošová (from 15 June 1990 to 1 July 1992)
Eva Trojanová (interim appointment from 2 July 1992 to 30 November 1992 )
Juraj Žáry (interim appointment from 1 December 1992 to 15 November 1996)
Pavol Muška (interim appointment from 15 November 1996 to do 29 June 1999)
Katarína Bajcurová (1999 – 2009)
Alexandra Kusá (2010 – )

History of SNG Bratislava Premises

The complex of buildings in Bratislava is made up of the original structure of the Baroque Water Barracks with an additional structure (the bridge and administrative building from the 1970s) and the Esterházy Palace (built in 1870).
Intensive activity surrounding the issues of the official seat of the Slovak National Gallery began right after its founding. The premises of the former Water Barracks on the Danube River banks were allocated for the needs of this institution at the end of 1950 and the beginning of 1951. The gates of the gallery were opened for the general public on May 9, 1955, when reconstruction of the premises was completed (interior by arch. F. Florians, interior by arch. K. Rozmány). Shortly after the opening, the gallery management stated that the premises of the Water Barracks did not fit the gallery’s needs in terms of capacity. In 1963, The Association of Slovak Architects was asked to design an additional structure for the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava. Four teams of authors participated in this competition and the commission evaluated them in the following order: the design of arch. V. Dedeček was the best; the team of prof. E. Kramár took second place; the team of professor prof. J. Frágner finished third and the team of arch. M. Beňuška (town-planning design) was fourth.

The design underwent several expert analyses and assessments, based on which the original was re-done by architect V. Dedeček. The final design differentiated the individual structures and floors according to height and mass. The architect opened the view in the courtyard and the Water Barracks by lifting the river bank wing of the building so that the structure on the columns was replaced by a bridge construction, i.e., “the bridge” (designed in cooperation with the engineers from Mostárne Brezno factory).

The new premises (the bridge) incorporated the building of expositions, the administrative building, the amphitheatre and library. The difference between the architectural designs (1963 and 1968) also reflects the opinion shift in the architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. The concept, whose torso was implemented, applies and celebrates, monumentalizes the revival of architecture in the 1960s. The building was ceremonially opened by the opening of permanent expositions to the general public on 1 March 1977. Despite the permanent decrease of prices of materials and technologies, despite many construction shortcomings the building of the premises was a rare project in Slovakia. It was not only the first modern structure in the field of culture, but it is still the only new large gallery structure in Slovakia. The Slovak National Gallery is working on plans for the reconstruction of the entire premises (Martin Kusý, Pavol Paňák and team – the studio Architekti BKPŠ, are the authors of the design).